Post-Rock is a unique beast, heralded by the likes of Sigur Ros, Mogwai, Godspeed You!
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Black Emperor and Explosions in the Sky. The music is characterized by slow-burning tracks, soaking in a wash of reverb as driving percussive beats and larger-than-life orchestration that provides a sense that something truly epic is brewing. Each particular group has an unusual knack to add to their Post-Rock sensibilities, with Sigur Ros using their beautiful homeland to inspire otherworldly sounds, while the crushing distortion of Mogwai’s compositions rivals those of their other Post-Rock counterparts. Some songs use words, others do not, but one fact is clear – this music is destined to possess a sense of grandeur that words fail to describe.
Such is the case with The Frames and their captivating and sprawling work, “Mosaik”. The purely instrumental album – filled to the brim with heroic melodies, soaring guitars and anthem-like percussive rhythms – balances the fine line of paying homage to the genre juggernauts, while possessing a sense of style that stands completely on its own accord. It’s a delicate balance to maintain, but throughout the course of “Mosaik’s” eleven tracks there is a seamless musical flow that constantly maintains attention to the musical influences/nuances strewn throughout – ranging from instrumental jams reminiscent of Dream Theater’s progressive-rock groove sessions mingling alongside Nico Muhly-inspired orchestration.
Time and time again The Frames succeed in fabricating breathtaking images, with sparse piano figures entrancing listeners one moment, only to have the thunderous roar of drums and guitars unanimously declaring their presence with biblical urgency. One of the album’s strongest tracks, (if not the album’s centerpiece) “Horizon”, is a gorgeous song that utilizes the perfect mix of the instrumental palette The Frames presents to the listener. To those genre fans, though, that enjoy a good 15 minute epic will find themselves in complete awe of the album’s closing track, “m” – a song characterized by its quiet-loud-quite formula that manages to build upon its intensity to such a point that it literally appears on the verge of unraveling. Yet it never missteps and manages to deliver a fitting close, the journey ending as softly as it had started.
In terms of pacing the album does not rely on resting in the midst of mid-tempo phrases, nor does it ever steep into a sense of musical pretentiousness by constantly relying on musical motives that push the threshold of loud and bombastic to obnoxious levels. Everything feels as one cohesive whole, with songs effortlessly transitioning into one another. As the album’s title implies these songs are meant to be experienced all at once, which serves as both a benefit and a detriment to the overall effect “Mosaik” intends to deliver; one that seeks to whisk away its listeners to worlds of profound musical beauty.
And while the words are never present, The Frames manage the rare feat in providing a backdrop where you can “hear” the vocals of an unnamed singer rocketing high into the sky -beyond the stratosphere and forever traveling across the infinite expanse of space. Progressive Post Rock that stands on a league of its own.